Letters: Hold Trump accountable, Small things...
Hold Trump accountable
To the Editor:
A few weeks back, I wrote a letter asking where Fairfield’s Republican representatives stand on their party’s inability or refusal to hold Donald Trump accountable for his actions. Only Tony Hwang made a public statement on his social media page regarding Mr. Trump siding with Vladimir Putin; Laura Devlin and Brenda Kupchick have made no public statements on theirs.
In the days since then, I’ve been horrified not only by the public actions of members of the state Republican party (a GOP gubernatorial candidate just yesterday made a racist tweet about a political candidate who is Asian American), but by the silence and inaction of their chairman, J.R. Romano, and Fairfield’s Republican representatives. Their social media pages seem to be solely focused on fighting with the opposing party instead of calling out the repugnant behavior of their own party’s members or saying bigotry is not a Republican value. Do they approve of the racism and xenophobia that have infested their party not only at the national level, but at the state level?
I will close with an excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize speech:
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”
offered in town
To the Editor:
As much as I like poetry, how easily I forget Robert Penn Warren, whose Fairfield home is featured on the front page of the Real Estate section, C1, of the Fairfield Citizen, Aug. 17.
Robert Penn Warren was the first of our poet laureates — of this we are reminded. I had not only totally forgotten, which is my mistake, because I never knew, and, truthfully, I had never thought of Warren as a poet. The designation was revealed on Feb. 27, 1986. He died in Stratton, Vt., on Sept. 15, 1989.
A critic says that Warren’s poetry was “an emotional journey.” His fiction was that, too. I knew him, of course, for his novel, “All the King’s Men,” perhaps it was the movie, first, when I was an usher in 1949 when I was 16 and later read the book, when I started buying and reading books during my service years.
Which brings me to poetry in Fairfield: There is a program at the Fairfield Library for interested and active poets. And there’s a longstanding program at the Fairfield Senior Center where for several years a group of seniors have been gathering to discuss their own poems, twice monthly, at the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities.
I joined the senior center group, and I do enjoy writing poetry very much. The meetings are fun, challenging, at times, and always helpful for our interchanges of the work we read. In the process, we subject ourselves to mild critique.
Not to worry, the leader, Emerson Gilmore, poet, author of two books of poetry, is well prepared to provide models and resources, as well as critiques and encouragement.
Small acts of
To the Editor:
Oh my God, am I becoming a cantankerous, complaining old woman? When did I cross the line? When did I begin to think my rants about corporate greed, disinformation, built-in obsolescence and obscene drug costs were so important?
Only a few years ago I was firmly rooted in gratitude, global kindness and generosity. I took groups of U.S. women to visit with women’s groups in rural Haiti, Bosnia, Palestine, Kenya and Guatemala. Then I wrote grant proposals and now I write letters of complaint. I think I am disappointed in the new American way, which puts consumption and greed on the top of the To Do list.
When I traveled to underdeveloped countries, I kept my heart open and my spirit hopeful. I recall one morning, when we were meeting with women in the small village of Plaisance, Haiti, the electricity was turned off till noon and there was a riot in town. Crowds were burning tires and demanding change in the government.
A baby was born in the mountains the night before without a midwife. The mother hemorrhaged and died. Another young mother who had just fed her own 3-week-old twins was now suckling the dead mother’s newborn. None of this was unusual. Women died in childbirth; other women feed children that were not theirs. The villagers took care of one another.
Being in Plaisance that morning and listening to that story compelled me to return to Haiti over and over again for more than two decades. I knew that if I had lived there during the time of my last birthing experience, I would have died. I gave birth in a U.S. hospital to premature twins. One died. I hemorrhaged and teetered on the edge of death as the surgical team replaced all of my blood. This would have been impossible in Plaisance.
I ask myself why am I living in privilege, while other women live in poverty? Is it only an accident of birth? I was driven to help women in those countries and to expose the conditions they live with every day to others in my country. We started a small health clinic in Cite Soliel that was run by a nurse and her friends and brought radio equipment to establish a women’s radio station in a small mountain village,
I continued to bring U.S. women, teachers, reporters and volunteers to visit Haiti and we made a small difference in the lives of some. These experiences permeated my being and created a stark awareness of the vast gap between first world and Third World living.
When I returned home, I could start a pot of coffee perking with my fingertip, open my garage door and find my car filled with gasoline ready to go. My computer and phone were always available with a live internet connection. Excellent medical help was a phone call away. Gratitude filled me for all the conveniences I took for granted.
Now, years later, I have become a complainer. I have forgotten how privileged I am. I rant and harangue about the wrongs I experience which are all problems of privilege. Shortsighted and deep into minutia, I complain and groan about poor service for a washer and dryer, a malfunctioning computer, underpayment of an insurance claim and the lack of attention at a brokerage firm.
How do privilege, poverty, kindness and generosity partner with irritability and complaining? Perhaps here at home in the U.S., where privilege lives next door to poverty often without noticing, I expect people to be kind to each other. I expect to buy products that work, continue to work, without built-in obsolescence. I expect service companies to be of service. Perhaps I expect too much.
After years of traveling to other countries to offer help in small ways, now I take care of my own family, my friends, my own town and those nearby. Now I focus on noticing small acts of kindness and generosity at home and replicating them.
I recently watched a woman picking up the garbage on Jennings Beach; the next day a stranger offered me her inhaler when she noticed I was having trouble breathing. A person at Cumberland Farms pointed to me and said to the cashier, “I’ll pay for her coffee too.”
I had to travel round the world to notice the presence of and the need for kindness and generosity in my own neighborhood. Now, I try to live by Desmond Tutu’s quote:
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
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